Below is a Zenit working translation of Pope Francis’ chat with children and other groups during his visit to a parish on the outskirts of the city of Rome, the afternoon of Sunday, Feb. 19, the second of this type since the end of the Jubilee of Mercy, and the 13th visit of this nature. The parish of Saint Mary Josephine of the Heart of Jesus in Castelverde di Lunghezza, is six kilometers east of the circular highway around Rome:
Meeting with Children
The Parish Priest: Alessandro is a very intelligent boy. A few Sundays ago, in connection with the calling of the Apostles, I said: “If Jesus comes today and calls you, who is ready to go?” And several raised their hand, he among them. Alessandro, His Holiness Pope Francis is here, the Vicar of Christ, and you can ask him whatever you want.
Alessandro: Why did you become Pope?
Pope Francis: Because there are “culpable ones.” One of the culpable ones is this one [he indicates Cardinal Vallini]. [The children laugh]. Because, do you know how a Pope is made? Look, I’ll explain it to you. Do you know how a Pope is made? [”No!] Does one pay to become a Pope?” [“No!”] But if one pays a lot, a lot, a lot at the end they make him Pope? [“No!”] No. Is the Pope made by drawing lots? [“No!”] No. It’s not done by drawing lots. And how is it done? Who are the ones that elect the Pope? Think well: who are they? [“The Cardinals”] The cardinals. And Don Agostino [Vallini] is a Cardinal; he is the Vicar of Rome, and he was among those 115 who were gathered to elect the Pope. Understood? And they gather, talk among themselves, think … “Oh, but we think of this one, and that one, and this one has this advantage, this is another advantage …” and they reason … but above all, and this is the most important thing, they pray. Understood? These people who are cloistered, that is, they can’t talk there with people from the outside, they are as isolated, from Saint Martha’s House they go to the Sistine Chapel to elect the Pope. Speaking among themselves about what the Church needs today, and for this a personality is better with this profile, or that <profile> …; all human reasoning. And the Lord sends the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit helps in the election. Then, each one gives his vote and the ballots are counted and the one who has two-thirds of the number is elected Pope. As you see, it’s a process done with much prayer. It’s not paid for; there aren’t any powerful friends who push one, no, no. Therefore, who makes the Pope? … No, I’ll ask the question thus: who is the most important person in that group that makes the Pope? Think well! Who is it? [Someone says: “The Pope”]. No, the Pope is not made yet. [Some say: “God”] <It is> God, the Holy Spirit, who makes the Pope through the vote. Then, the one who is elected, perhaps is not the most intelligent, perhaps he’s not the cleverest, perhaps he’s not the hastiest in doing things, but he is the one that God wants for that moment of the Church. Understood? [“Yes!”]. And I’ll ask you a question, but think well. In the election — you asked the first question, Alessandro, where they made me Pope, we were 115. I ask you the question: who was the most intelligent of these 115? [“You!”] No! [Some: “All!”] No. The most, the most … [“God”]. God is the 116th … we don’t know, but the one who is elected is not necessarily the most intelligent. Understood? There are those who are more intelligent than him, but God chose that one. And as with all things in life, time passes, the Pope must die like everyone, or retire, as the great Pope Benedict did, because he didn’t have good health, and another will come, who will be different, he will be different, perhaps he will be more intelligent or less intelligent, we don’t know. But this other one will arrive in the same way: elected by the group of Cardinals under the light of the Holy Spirit. Have you understood? Tell me, Alessandro, are you happy with the answer? Is it true? Have I made a mistake? I haven’t said a lie? Thank you.
The Parish Priest: Flavio, of the Confirmation group. Where is he? We’ll go one by one.
Flavio: When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Pope Francis: I’ll tell you, but what’s your name?
Pope Francis: I’ll tell you, but don’t laugh! I’m not joking. I tell the truth. I wanted to be a butcher. Truly! Because when I went to the market with my grandmother, I saw how the butcher cut the pieces of meat: “How clever this man was!” and I liked him. “When I grow up I’ll be a butcher,” I said to myself.
Flavio: And … can I take a photo of you?
Pope Francis: Yes! And you, tell me, what do you want to do when you grow up?
Flavio: A footballer.
Pope Francis: A footballer! Have you seen him play football? [“Yes!”] Does he do it well or not? [“He’s good”] And what place do you have?
Pope Francis: Centerfield, that’s good …
The Parish Priest: Introduce yourself, say you name.
Cristian: My name is Cristian. What did you do to become Pope?
The Parish Priest: Again?
Cristian: Well, it’s my question!
The Parish Priest: This was your question? He answered you earlier … ask another …
Pope Francis: Ask me another. Think, think. Think calmly; you think of another here and …
The Parish Priest: Ask a question, whatever you want?
Pope Francis: What’s your name?
Pope Francis: Agostino, like the Vicar of Rome.
Agostino: But to become Pope, did you have to do well at school?
Pope Francis: To become Pope you must be, first of all, a good Christian. Normally one becomes a priest first, then a Bishop. However, in the early times of the Church, not all the Popes were necessarily Priests: some were deacons. But one must be a good Christian. And the community singled them out at that time. There were so many Christian people that knew this or that and pointed him out; some were priests, some deacons. But then, with time, the election system was thoroughly systematized and now only Cardinals elect the Pope — the cardinals under the age of 80.
A child: What was the most difficult point of your life?
Pope Francis: What was it …?
The child: … the most difficult point of your life?
Pope Francis: Yes, there were some difficult moments. I had some difficult times with my health. When I was 20, I almost died of an infection; they removed part of a lung … but the Lord led me forward. And then, the difficult moments we all have, all of us, in life. Be attentive to this! Life is a gift of God, but in life there are awful moments, there are difficult moments that one must overcome and go forward. I had so many, as all people do. But I remember this sickness at 20, and I had other difficult ones. But I’ll say this: life was not easy for me. I ask you: for all, for people, is life easy in general? [“No’]. Are there difficulties in life? [“Yes”] Always! There are and there will be. But one must not get scared. Difficulties are overcome; one goes forward, with faith, with strength, with courage! But are you not courageous … Are you or not? …
The child: In certain moments …
Pope Francis: Are you or are you not courageous? [“Yes”] Are you good? [“Yes and no”] Or are you all fearful? [“No”]. Are you courageous? [“Yes”] Good, forward! Thank you!
The child: <Thank you> to you. Can I take a photo of you?
Pope Francis: Yes. Now we pass to the second time: the time of the little girls. We’ll see who wins, ah?
Giulia: How do you feel being the representative of the Catholic Church?
Pope Francis: One feels the great responsibility. You said the word “representative,” and one who “represents” the Church can’t make a bad impression. Can the Pope make a bad impression? [“No”] No, he can’t. He must be careful not to give a bad impression. But yet another thing is felt. The Pope is the bishop … Is the Pope a bishop or not?
Pope Francis: Of Rome, the Pope is the Bishop of Rome, but he has the pastoral care of the whole Church of the world with the other Bishops. But what is the Pope’s diocese? [Someone says: “Saint John”] Saint John is the Cathedral … and the diocese is …
Giulia: Saint Peter.
Pope Francis: Rome, agreed. And the Pope is also bishop and father and what the Pope must feel is that he is a Father; if the Pope or the Bishop doesn’t feel he is a Father, something is missing. It’s this.
The Parish Priest: Well, children, that’s enough questions.
Pope Francis: Now I’ll ask them …
The Parish Priest: Now, children, absolute silence, because the Pope wants to ask you a question. So you must pay attention.
Pope Francis: I’ll ask question and you all answer. How many “Gods” are there? [“One”]. But … I know three! [“The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”]. Father, Son and Holy Spirit: one and two and three. They are three. What do you answer to this? Who can answer? [Someone says: They are three”] Are there three Gods or one? [Someone says: [There is only one divided in three parts”] — in three parts? No, God is one [“He is only one but who represents more things”]. It doesn’t work … How many “Gods are there? [“Three”]. Three “Gods” or one? [“One”]. But if there is one … I ask you this question: Is the Father God? [“Yes”] Is the Son God? [Yes … No …”]. So, He’s not God? [Yes, He is God”] Is the Holy Spirit God? [“Yes”]. They are three, but this is something that’s not easy to understand: they are three Persons, have you understood this? They are three Persons, but the three Persons make only one God. Agreed? [“Yes”]. Aren’t you convinced? So, what three things are they? Three [“Persons”] and one [“God”]. Three … [“Persons”] and one [“God”]. And is Our Lady God? [“No’] What is Our Lady? [“The Mother …”]. The Mother of God. Why is she the Mother of God? Because she is the one who brought Jesus to the world. Agreed? [“Yes”]. Yes. And Joseph truly helped Our Lady. Is the Father God? Yes. Is the Son God? Yes. Is the Holy Spirit God? Yes. Three Persons, agreed? How many Persons? [“Three”]. How many “Gods”? [“One”]. Is Our Lady God? [“No”]. Our Lady is …? The Mother of God.. This is clear. Never forget this. All right.
The Parish Priest: Thank you so much, Holiness. Children, we stand up and now the Holy Father will have us pray in silence, as we usually do in church.
Pope Francis: Silence, eyes closed. We think of Our Lady and we pray to Our Lady, who is the Mother of God and our Mother. – All together. Hail Mary …
May Almighty God bless you …
And pray for me, agreed? [“Yes!”] Are you sure? [“Yes!”] Thank you![Original text: Italian] [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
Meeting with Families Helped by the Parish Caritas, Together with the Workers
Pope Francis: Thank you of what you do. Your work is to approach persons that have some need, and also not just to give something, but to listen: the “apostolate of the ear.” Sometimes, one can think: “But this can be somewhat trying, how trying it is … to listen to so much grief.
A man: Holy Father, the Almonry sends so much of your help.
A woman: … it’s a parish that is in so much, so much need!
Pope Francis: Go forward! … but don’t quarrel among yourselves! Think of this: when a person comes to ask for help, a lady, a man or anyone, that person is Jesus. Because Jesus also had to ask for help when he was a refugee in Egypt. It is Jesus who is in need in this person. “But this is a person who speaks badly, who doesn’t go to Church, who doesn’t believe in God …” But she is Jesus; she is Jesus. It’s your prayer that widens the heart and faith: it is Jesus, He is with me; Jesus is with me today. And I give this packet to Jesus. And I give this smile to Jesus. This is your path of sanctity. If you do this, you will become saints — all of you. It’s simple. But don’t forget: it’s Jesus who knocks at the door. I give you the blessing but first of all let us pray to Our Lady, so that she will intercede for all of us and for you. Hail Mary ….
And remember: every person that comes is Jesus. Is that good person Jesus? Yes. Is that person who isn’t so good Jesus? For me, he is Jesus. I must receive him as Jesus. Is that woman who has a serpent’s tongue Jesus? Yes. And, with my tenderness and my love, I must have her tongue “detoxified” and not speak badly. However, it’s always tenderness, love because every person who is in need is Jesus who knocks at the door of my heart. And pray for me: I also knock at the door of your heart and ask for prayer. I don’t ask for a packet, but I ask for prayer, a Rosary … Thank you![Original text: Italian] [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
Thank you so much for being here to pray together, to pray for the whole neighborhood, for the parish. I greet you all, Catholic faithful and also the Muslims, and I ask the Lord to bless you all. I also greet all those who wished to come but for whom it wasn’t possible: my blessing and my greeting also for them. And now, a minute in prayer and I’ll give you the blessing. Let us pray together to Our Lady: Hail Mary …[Blessing]
And please, pray for me. Good-bye![Original text: Italian] [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]